Breastfeeding: A Global Issue

“We know that breastfeeding helps children survive and thrive—enabling infants to withstand infections, providing critical nutrients for the early development of their brains and bodies, and strengthening the bond between mothers and their babies.”  – UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and WHO Director General Margaret Chan’s World Breast Feeding Week Message

This month was Breastfeeding Awareness Month which aimed to empower and support women who choose to commit to breastfeeding.  According to the Pan American Health Organization, only 38% of infants globally are exclusively breastfed for the recommended minimum of six (6) months.  Babies who are fed only breast milk, when possible, get the best start in life developmentally (WHO). However, the issues surrounding breastfeeding are prevalent all over the world, whether it’s the lack of knowledge and education, or the stigma around breastfeeding and the workplace. Breastfeeding remains a children and human rights issue, and raising awareness could save over 800,000 lives every year.

Patronato3While the benefits of breastfeeding on the life of a child range from protection against obesity to brain development, researchers have pointed out that the bond of a nursing mother and child is stronger than any other human contact. The relationship between a lactating mother and her child is rooted in breastfeeding, and can have positive repercussions for life in terms of stimulation, speech and behavior. Furthermore, children may develop a stronger sense of wellbeing and security and show a willingness to relate to others. The benefits can be significant for the mother as well, contributing to a characteristically more attentive and healthy caregiver. Not only does breastfeeding reduce the mother’s risk of developing osteoporosis and breast cancer, but the emotional health of the mother may be enhanced by the relationship she develops with her infant. Research shows that this can result in fewer feelings of anxiety and an overall improved mother-child bond (NRDC).

InfoGraphic WBWTRF local partner Patronato Nacional de la Infancia in Chile is a nonprofit that recognizes the importance of this mother-child union. Patronato hopes to support the integral development of children so that they may reach their full physical, social and intellectual potential. At Patronato’s Infant Health Clinics, they not only offer pediatric services to more than 25,000 vulnerable children annually, but also offer breastfeeding and early stimulation workshops to mothers in need. Patronato is committed to strengthening the mother-child relationship by providing mothers with the support and tools they need to care for their infants.
As World Breastfeeding Month comes to a close, we recognize the importance of these past weeks on the lives of children all over the world. With undernutrition estimated to cause 3.1 million child deaths annually, infant and child feeding is vital to improve survival rates (WHO). Every child has the right to proper nutrition, no matter their circumstance.

Interested in breastfeeding and women in LAC? Look out for more content focused on women and girls as we approach the TRF Fall Gala in November.

 

By Ana Grammatica, TRF Program Reporting Officer